Visual aspects of interaction design

27 Apr 2004 - 2:41pm
10 years ago
43 replies
1344 reads
Dave Malouf
2005

http://www.lukew.com/ff/index.asp

This is a blog that I found by way of Andrei's Design by Fire blog
(www.designbyfire.com).

What I found interesting here is mix of visual design with interface design.
As a non-visual designer I often lack the sophistication necessary bring my
interfaces alive both in craft and in theory. I'm curious as to what people
feel about the import of visual design for interaction and interface design
to be successful?

-- dave

David Heller
<mailto:dave at interactiondesigners.com> dave at interactiondesigners.com
<http://www.interactiondesigners.com/> http://www.interactiondesigners.com/

for work \\ <http://www.intralinks.com/> http://www.intralinks.com
\\ <http://www.htmhell.com/> http://www.htmhell.com
\\ <http://webgui.htmhell.com/> http://webgui.htmhell.com

to connect \\ AIM: bolinhanyc
\\ Y!: dave_ux
\\ MSN: <mailto:hippiefunk at hotmail.com>
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Comments

27 Apr 2004 - 3:00pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Apr 27, 2004, at 1:41 PM, David Heller wrote:

> What I found interesting here is mix of visual design with interface
> design. As a non-visual designer I often lack the sophistication
> necessary bring my interfaces alive both in craft and in theory. I'm
> curious as to what people feel about the import of visual design for
> interaction and interface design to be successful?

Highly important. 8^)

In all seriousness, I consider the visual aspect of the job as
important as expecting an industrial designer to be able to create the
form of their design in clay or wood, not just draw what they want. Or
as important as a movie director having some background in photography
or camera work, and not just the ability to edit or work with actors.
(It's always easy to see which director's don't have these sorts of
backgrounds, imho.)

But then again... I find it interesting you noted in the message there
was a "mix of visual design with interface design." I would never
expect that visual was considered separate, ever. In fact, in the early
to mid 1990s, most of us "interface designers" had to fight the notion
that all we did was draw pretty icons. I guess we've come a long way,
only to lose focus in certain areas.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

27 Apr 2004 - 3:13pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

I agree with Andrei that visual design is a vital component of the work.
(It does tend to fade into insignificance in IVR and other auditory
systems, but who's quibbling? :-)

I hear Andrei saying, however, that the interface or interaction designer
has to be able to do the visual design herself -- and with this I disagree.
She just has to have a good enough understanding and appreciation of it to
work well with a visual/graphic designer.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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27 Apr 2004 - 3:17pm
Todd Warfel
2003

Dave,

Do you mean the importance of visual design for interaction/visual
design to be successful?

Personally, while some usability professionals don't see visual design
(aesthetics) to be important, or as important, I think it most
definitely is.

There are two things we need to keep in mind to determine success as it
relates to usability, interaction/interface design - user behavior and
user perception. Behavior is a little easier to measure or quantify
than perception.

We're currently completing some research over the course of the past
year-and-a-half that will hopefully lead to a way to measure the impact
usability (or lack thereof) has on a product. And one of the things
we've found is that we can typically align behavior with usability and
interaction/interface design. Likewise, we can typically align
perception with visual (aesthetic) design. Either/both can have
significant impact on the measured success of a product.

Here's an example: one of the things that has made eBay so successful
is it's visual design, or lack thereof as some would argue. The fact
that it has that cheap and cheeky look helps with the perception that
things are cheaper there. It gives people the feeling of a yard sale,
or going out of business sale - which increases the perception that
you're going to get a better deal there. It's not always the case,
getting a better deal, but that's the perception. And it's one thing
we've found that contributes to its success based our research.

Is it important? Absolutely. Is it more important than
interaction/interface design or usability? Well, that depends and
that's a whole conversation into itself.

On Apr 27, 2004, at 4:41 PM, David Heller wrote:

> [...]I'm curious as to what people feel about the import of visual
> design for interaction and interface design to be successful?

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
User Experience Architect
MessageFirst | making products easier to use
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
voice: (607) 339-9640
email: twarfel at messagefirst.com
web: www.messagefirst.com
aim: twarfel at mac.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.
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27 Apr 2004 - 3:31pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Apr 27, 2004, at 2:13 PM, Elizabeth Buie wrote:

> I hear Andrei saying, however, that the interface or interaction
> designer
> has to be able to do the visual design herself -- and with this I
> disagree.
> She just has to have a good enough understanding and appreciation of
> it to
> work well with a visual/graphic designer.

To some degree, I probably am saying that. 8^)

Let me put it this way: If an interface designer finds herself in face
of a project where there's too much visual work for the number of
people, or there is a lack of visual resources due to whatever business
reason, that designer should be able to complete the project on her own
and have the end visual result look professional.

My Gurus v. Bloggers (http://www.designbyfire.com/000076.html) post on
DxF was indeed tongue in cheek. However, I hope it pointed out that
there is a wealth of talent out there that *is* doing more of the
entire thing when it comes to design. All of the sites I pointed to had
the touches of the bloggers/designers themselves doing not only their
own visual work, but the IA work *and* the coding behind their blogs.
(I'm still catching up myself in this whole blog thing, having only
gotten started in late December of 2003.) For these designers to learn
the interaction piece as it applies to more robust applications is not
a far stretch, imho. Once they do, they'll have the skills in visual,
IA, interaction and base level coding. That's the new school of
interface design in my view.

And given the types of apps that will become much more prevalent with
Longhorn, where designers can use XHTML+CSS like mark-up to create the
UI design so the engineers don't have to, I would dare say it'll become
the norm in the next ten years. (Probably even five years.)

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

27 Apr 2004 - 3:39pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Apr 27, 2004, at 2:17 PM, Todd R.Warfel wrote:

> Here's an example: one of the things that has made eBay so successful
> is it's visual design, or lack thereof as some would argue. The fact
> that it has that cheap and cheeky look helps with the perception that
> things are cheaper there. It gives people the feeling of a yard sale,
> or going out of business sale - which increases the perception that
> you're going to get a better deal there.

I question this premise, especially considering, from everything I
know, the visual design of eBay was the result of a more of a typical
rush to market approach that was prevalent during the dot.com boom. If
this premise were indeed correct, I would expect Target's latest move
to add better design to its store to have fallen flat on its face,
which it did not.

eBay's lack of design or approach has little to do with its success
from my recollection of being here in the valley. It had a lot more to
do with being there first, attacking the market viciously quick,
running employees on all cylinders to add core features and
functionality, and hitting a market that people were willing to spend
money on (finding items, and cheaper ones at that, that one is looking
for that can be found in the real world maybe 0.001% of the time even
if you tried real hard.) eBay has not real world equivalent. That's
part of its appeal and why many people use it.

Now... having a "consumer" smart design is possible, and is probably
appropriate for eBay. Fixing simple problems in the visuals to keep the
fun factor while also making the site easier to use is more than
possible. But the premise that eBay's lack of design is part of its
success formula seems way off-base.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

27 Apr 2004 - 3:40pm
Bob Baxley
2004

Andrei's last point can't be stressed enough:

> And given the types of apps that will become much more prevalent with
> Longhorn, where designers can use XHTML+CSS like mark-up to create the
> UI design so the engineers don't have to, I would dare say it'll
> become the norm in the next ten years. (Probably even five years.)

And while the thought of designers coding their own work might
initially sound daunting or perhaps unappealing, it will ultimately be
a boon to the profession as designers will finally control the means of
production related to their inventions and will therefore be able to
exercise additional control, influence, and responsibility in the
product creation process.

------------------------------------------
Bob Baxley :: bob at bobbaxley.com
Professional :: www.baxleydesign.com
Personal :: www.drowninginthecurrent.com

27 Apr 2004 - 3:43pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Andrei said:

"If an interface designer finds herself in face of a project where there's
too much visual work for the number of people, or there is a lack of visual
resources due to whatever business reason, that designer should be able to
complete the project on her own and have the end visual result look
professional."

It would be preferable, I agree. I have, in fact, found myself in that
position -- and fortunately, I have enough skills at it to make that work.
But still, I'd rather work with someone who's specialized in graphic
design.

And you could say that about any aspect of the design. Where does it end?
Suppose there's no [pick your specialist here -- accessibility is a common
example]. Does the IxD'er have to be a Jane of all trades to be any good?
It's optimum, yes. But required? I say no.

Elizabeth

--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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27 Apr 2004 - 3:58pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Apr 27, 2004, at 2:43 PM, Elizabeth Buie wrote:

> And you could say that about any aspect of the design. Where does it
> end?
> Suppose there's no [pick your specialist here -- accessibility is a
> common
> example]. Does the IxD'er have to be a Jane of all trades to be any
> good?
> It's optimum, yes. But required? I say no.

I certainly don't mean to imply it's required. But I think designers,
especially the ones brought into the field from an IA or UX direction,
need to be realistic about what they should be able to do, and what
they'll need to do given business circumstances if they want to go
higher up in the ranks in this field, especially in the next decade.

The bar is being raised. I think at some level it's important we
acknowledge that.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

27 Apr 2004 - 4:03pm
Jenifer Tidwell
2003

All together now: "It depends." :-)

Some aspects of visual design are indispensable to an interaction
designer (unless one is working with a speech interface). Use of
layout grids, alignment, whitespace, visual hierarchy, rhythm and
repetition, color, and even elementary typography -- these are all
fundamental skills for putting together a clear and readable
interface, are they not?

I wouldn't want to delegate that much of the design to another
person, however skilled they are in graphic design. It's too
integral to the quality of interaction.

On the other hand, there's more to visual design than that, as
we all know. The eBay example is on point: it's not just the
behavioral- and cognitive-level interactions that count. Affect
and branding are also important (Norman's visceral and reflective
levels). Do we have to be experts in manipulating these too?
I'm not so sure -- maybe delegating that to specialized visual
designers is the right answer in most organizations. They can
deal with backgrounds, images, non-interactive graphic elements,
the finer points of text formatting, etc. without us stepping
on their toes, or vice versa.

I think we need to make sure that what they come up with is
still usable, and that they tell us what design constraints we're
working under... but in most apps and web sites, they might be
more separable. Ultimately it depends on the product and the
people involved.

(Heck, in most organizations I've worked for, I'd settle for
*anyone* paying attention to the subtleties of visual design!)

- Jenifer

--------------------------------------------
Jenifer Tidwell
w: jtidwell at mathworks.com
h: jtidwell at alum.mit.edu
http://jtidwell.net/

On Tue, 27 Apr 2004, David Heller wrote:

> http://www.lukew.com/ff/index.asp
>
> This is a blog that I found by way of Andrei's Design by Fire blog
> (www.designbyfire.com).
>
> What I found interesting here is mix of visual design with interface design.
> As a non-visual designer I often lack the sophistication necessary bring my
> interfaces alive both in craft and in theory. I'm curious as to what people
> feel about the import of visual design for interaction and interface design
> to be successful?
>
> -- dave

27 Apr 2004 - 3:54pm
Shuli Gilutz
2004

I would have to agree. And add:

As a person that used to do 'everything', I highly appreciate working with
good visual designers. When they look at a design problem/product, they
think of many things, aesthetics being only one of them, but metaphor,
functionality, branding, fun, and many others too.
Although I consider myself relatively OK at critiquing design, I am by no
way an expert at creating this type of visual experience.
However, I think my expertise (IA, interaction design, usability analysis)
is critical as well, and has taken me a long time to achieve.
How can you expect everyone to be an expert at everything?

I think many of us had tried that in the late 90s, when the word 'webmaster'
meant do-it-all-yourself...
Personally, I find that working with a team of people that are both experts
in their own domain, AND somewhat knowledgeable in the others, is the best
solution.

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Elizabeth Buie
Sent: Tuesday, April 27, 2004 5:43 PM
To: discuss at interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Visual aspects of interaction design

Andrei said:

"If an interface designer finds herself in face of a project where there's
too much visual work for the number of people, or there is a lack of visual
resources due to whatever business reason, that designer should be able to
complete the project on her own and have the end visual result look
professional."

It would be preferable, I agree. I have, in fact, found myself in that
position -- and fortunately, I have enough skills at it to make that work.
But still, I'd rather work with someone who's specialized in graphic design.

And you could say that about any aspect of the design. Where does it end?
Suppose there's no [pick your specialist here -- accessibility is a common
example]. Does the IxD'er have to be a Jane of all trades to be any good?
It's optimum, yes. But required? I say no.

Elizabeth

--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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27 Apr 2004 - 4:12pm
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Jenifer Tidwell writes:

"I wouldn't want to delegate that much of the design to another person,
however skilled they are in graphic design."

Nope, me neither. That's why I talked about "working with" a graphic
designer. In my experience, collaboration is far preferable to delegation.

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland, USA
+1.301.921.3326

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delete without copying and kindly advise us by e-mail of the mistake in
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27 Apr 2004 - 4:27pm
Todd Warfel
2003

On Apr 27, 2004, at 5:39 PM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> I question this premise, especially considering, from everything I
> know, the visual design of eBay was the result of a more of a typical
> rush to market approach that was prevalent during the dot.com boom. If
> this premise were indeed correct, I would expect Target's latest move
> to add better design to its store to have fallen flat on its face,
> which it did not.
> [...]
> Now... having a "consumer" smart design is possible, and is probably
> appropriate for eBay. Fixing simple problems in the visuals to keep
> the fun factor while also making the site easier to use is more than
> possible. But the premise that eBay's lack of design is part of its
> success formula seems way off-base.

Andrei,

I think you're misreading our initial findings. We're not saying that
this was their goal in the initial design, but rather that it's been a
byproduct of their design. I don't doubt that their initial design was
primarily due to a "rush to market." What we've found is that this lack
of design has actually contributed to its success in that the
perception is that you can find a better deal - it's backyard design
contributes to this. You might think it's way off-base, but like it or
not that's what we've found.

I wouldn't compare Target to eBay. They're two different models. Target
is known for bringing Pottery Barn type style at Old Navy prices, but
not Old Navy style. eBay on the other hand is more of a "find pretty
much anything you want" here. This can be seen when comparing their
marketing (commercials) as well. eBay uses cheeky game show styles,
while in contrast Target uses trendy Gap styles.

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
User Experience Architect
MessageFirst | making products easier to use
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
voice: (607) 339-9640
email: twarfel at messagefirst.com
web: www.messagefirst.com
aim: twarfel at mac.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.
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28 Apr 2004 - 1:16am
Olly Wright
2007

Even Don Norman has come around on this -- have you read (or heard him
speak) about Emotional Design? For a designer, it's more like Don's
saying what we've known all along: that beautiful things are simply
more desirable than those that aren't. Rats. I don't have the book here
with me at the institute but will post more about it later.

If you're talking about aesthetics, that's a different thing and a
direction that it might not be best to take this. Good design is a
combination of a well thought-out structure and series of
interactions, a visual system that engages people and that communicates
the nature of the things itself.

You would be foolish to eschew visual design (or its importance). Doing
it well is hard. Doing it well in multiple dimensions (say, in
products, industrial design or furniture) is even harder.

On Apr 28, 2004, at 12:03 AM, Jenifer Tidwell wrote:

> All together now: "It depends." :-)
>
> Some aspects of visual design are indispensable to an interaction
> designer (unless one is working with a speech interface). Use of
> layout grids, alignment, whitespace, visual hierarchy, rhythm and
> repetition, color, and even elementary typography -- these are all
> fundamental skills for putting together a clear and readable
> interface, are they not?
>
> I wouldn't want to delegate that much of the design to another
> person, however skilled they are in graphic design. It's too
> integral to the quality of interaction.
>
> On the other hand, there's more to visual design than that, as
> we all know. The eBay example is on point: it's not just the
> behavioral- and cognitive-level interactions that count. Affect
> and branding are also important (Norman's visceral and reflective
> levels). Do we have to be experts in manipulating these too?
> I'm not so sure -- maybe delegating that to specialized visual
> designers is the right answer in most organizations. They can
> deal with backgrounds, images, non-interactive graphic elements,
> the finer points of text formatting, etc. without us stepping
> on their toes, or vice versa.
>
> I think we need to make sure that what they come up with is
> still usable, and that they tell us what design constraints we're
> working under... but in most apps and web sites, they might be
> more separable. Ultimately it depends on the product and the
> people involved.
>
> (Heck, in most organizations I've worked for, I'd settle for
> *anyone* paying attention to the subtleties of visual design!)
>
> - Jenifer
>
> --------------------------------------------
> Jenifer Tidwell
> w: jtidwell at mathworks.com
> h: jtidwell at alum.mit.edu
> http://jtidwell.net/
>
>
> On Tue, 27 Apr 2004, David Heller wrote:
>
>> http://www.lukew.com/ff/index.asp
>>
>> This is a blog that I found by way of Andrei's Design by Fire blog
>> (www.designbyfire.com).
>>
>> What I found interesting here is mix of visual design with interface
>> design.
>> As a non-visual designer I often lack the sophistication necessary
>> bring my
>> interfaces alive both in craft and in theory. I'm curious as to what
>> people
>> feel about the import of visual design for interaction and interface
>> design
>> to be successful?
>>
>> -- dave
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>

28 Apr 2004 - 2:59am
id at ourbrisba...
2004

Quoting molly wright steenson <molly at girlwonder.com>:
> Even Don Norman has come around on this -- have you read (or heard him
> speak) about Emotional Design? For a designer, it's more like Don's
> saying what we've known all along: that beautiful things are simply
> more desirable than those that aren't. Rats. I don't have the book here
> with me at the institute but will post more about it later.

"It depends."

Something doesn't have to be more beautiful to be desirable. Desire is based
upon perception. Many people will buy an ugly or unusable 'label' over a
beautiful or functional 'generic brand' since it is perceived to be in some way
better.

Best regards,

Ash Donaldson
"It depends."
User Experience Designer

28 Apr 2004 - 3:54am
pabini
2004

Hi David

You wrote:
What I found interesting here is mix of visual design with interface design.
As a non-visual designer I often lack the sophistication necessary bring my
interfaces alive both in craft and in theory. I'm curious as to what people
feel about the import of visual design for interaction and interface design
to be successful?

I think visual design skills are essential to creating superior user
interfaces. Visual design supports interaction design. You can communicate
so much with layout, grouping, color, and typography. User interfaces that
are well-designed from a visual standpoint communicate their organization
better, so are easier to scan, read, and use, and are more pleasing
(calming) to users. They lend a sense of order.

Pabini Gabriel-Petit
________________________________________

Pabini Gabriel-Petit
Principal & User Experience Architect
Spirit Softworks
www.spiritsoftworks.com

28 Apr 2004 - 4:14am
pabini
2004

Hi Elizabeth

You wrote:
> I hear Andrei saying, however, that the interface or interaction designer
> has to be able to do the visual design herself -- and with this I
disagree.
> She just has to have a good enough understanding and appreciation of it to
> work well with a visual/graphic designer.

My viewpoint probably lies somewhere between yours and Andrei's. Because I
think of visual design as a means of communication with users, I think all
interaction designers should have a grasp of the basics of visual design
that I mentioned in my previous message. However, they don't necessarily
need to be able to create icons, custom widgets, and splash screens. My own
skill level drops off just before splash screens. One really has to be a
visual artist with a complete command of Photoshop or 3D imaging software to
create those well.

Pabini Gabriel-Petit
________________________________________

Pabini Gabriel-Petit
Principal & User Experience Architect
Spirit Softworks
www.spiritsoftworks.com

28 Apr 2004 - 4:17am
pabini
2004

Hi Todd

Todd Warfel wrote:
We're currently completing some research over the course of the past year-and-a-half that will hopefully lead to a way to measure the impact usability (or lack thereof) has on a product. And one of the things we've found is that we can typically align behavior with usability and interaction/interface design. Likewise, we can typically align perception with visual (aesthetic) design. Either/both can have significant impact on the measured success of a product.

Are you going to publish the results of your research?

Pabini
________________________________________

Pabini Gabriel-Petit
Principal & User Experience Architect
Spirit Softworks
www.spiritsoftworks.com
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28 Apr 2004 - 4:26am
pabini
2004

Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
I hope it pointed out that
> there is a wealth of talent out there that *is* doing more of the
> entire thing when it comes to design. ... they'll have the skills in
visual,
> IA, interaction and base level coding. That's the new school of
> interface design in my view.

According to the salary and consulting rates survey that Tania Lang and I
conducted recently, the overwhelming majority of people in our profession
have diverse skill sets and responsibilities in their work.

> And given the types of apps that will become much more prevalent with
> Longhorn, where designers can use XHTML+CSS like mark-up to create the
> UI design so the engineers don't have to, I would dare say it'll become
> the norm in the next ten years. (Probably even five years.)

I hadn't heard much about Longhorn before. This sounds very interesting. Can
you recommend any sources for information about this or tell us more
yourself?

Thanks, Pabini
________________________________________

Pabini Gabriel-Petit
Principal & User Experience Architect
Spirit Softworks
www.spiritsoftworks.com

28 Apr 2004 - 4:32am
pabini
2004

Hi Bob

Bob Baxley wrote:

And while the thought of designers coding their own work might
> initially sound daunting or perhaps unappealing, it will ultimately be
> a boon to the profession as designers will finally control the means of
> production related to their inventions and will therefore be able to
> exercise additional control, influence, and responsibility in the
> product creation process.

Excellent point. Developers are sometimes careless about visual details.
It's very frustrating to create pixel-perfect designs, then have them munged
during development. I'm sure we've all experienced this at one time or
another. Many of us are already doing this level of interface-implementation
work on the Web or with Interface Builder on the Mac. It would be great to
have an easy-to-use interface-building tool on the PC. Visual Basic has too
many limitations in the types of widgets and behaviors it supports without
coding.

Pabini
________________________________________

Pabini Gabriel-Petit
Principal & User Experience Architect
Spirit Softworks
www.spiritsoftworks.com

28 Apr 2004 - 4:49am
pabini
2004

Hi Jenifer

Jenifer Tidwell
> Some aspects of visual design are indispensable to an interaction
> designer (unless one is working with a speech interface). Use of
> layout grids, alignment, whitespace, visual hierarchy, rhythm and
> repetition, color, and even elementary typography -- these are all
> fundamental skills for putting together a clear and readable
> interface, are they not?

Amen! Well said.

> I wouldn't want to delegate that much of the design to another
> person, however skilled they are in graphic design. It's too
> integral to the quality of interaction.

I absolutely agree with you.

> Affect and branding are also important (Norman's visceral and reflective
> levels). Do we have to be experts in manipulating these too?
> I'm not so sure -- maybe delegating that to specialized visual
> designers is the right answer in most organizations. They can
> deal with backgrounds, images, non-interactive graphic elements,
> the finer points of text formatting, etc. without us stepping
> on their toes, or vice versa.

Visual interface designers have much to contribute in these areas. As
interaction designers, I think it's important to develop as many of these
skills as we can, but it's also important to recognize when a specialist is
capable of doing a better job than we can and hand over those
responsibilities to them.

> I think we need to make sure that what they come up with is
> still usable, and that they tell us what design constraints we're
> working under... but in most apps and web sites, they might be
> more separable. Ultimately it depends on the product and the
> people involved.

I think these skills are much more separable for Web design than for desktop
software design. The Web is so much more visual.

Pabini
________________________________________

Pabini Gabriel-Petit
Principal & User Experience Architect
Spirit Softworks
www.spiritsoftworks.com

28 Apr 2004 - 4:55am
pabini
2004

Hi Shuli

Shuli Gilutz wrote:
Personally, I find that working with a team of people that are both experts
> in their own domain, AND somewhat knowledgeable in the others, is the best
> solution.

This reminds me of the line in Jane Austen's Persuasion:

"That's not good company. That's the best company." (Or words to that
effect.)

I can't think of anything better than working with people who are both
experts in their own specialties and broadly knowledgeable about their
teammate's specialties. This is the kind of team that fosters true
collaboration, which is a fantastic working experience to have when. It's
like jamming with other musicians. Wonderful. :-)

Pabini
________________________________________

Pabini Gabriel-Petit
Principal & User Experience Architect
Spirit Softworks
www.spiritsoftworks.com

28 Apr 2004 - 5:31am
Ben Hunt
2004

Dave said: "I'm curious as to what people feel about the import of
visual design for interaction and interface design to be successful?"

I've recently extended an earlier article on the value of laziness and
plagiarism in design. It now distinguishes between 'functional' and
'aesthetic' design. I argue that the competitive ecosystem of functional
designs is slower than the aesthetic realm, and that the rewards and
risks are longer-lasting and greater.

Full article at:
<http://www.webdesignfromscratch.com?id=pursuit_of_the_original>
www.webdesignfromscratch.com?id=pursuit_of_the_original.

By the way, I need one or more editors/mentors to look through the 'Web
design from Scratch' site, and give me some guidance. It launched a
couple of days ago. If anyone here has some time to lend, I will be most
grateful.

Peace,
Ben

Aesthetic design is like a virus

Designs have an evolutionary lifecycle, like the lifecycle of a virus.
Advances come through fast, random genetic mutations, some of which give
a design/virus an advantage. Most mutations fail. Ocasionally, a
stronger strain arrives that has a competitive advantage. These
successful strains filter through the community in an organic pattern,
lots of people get it, and after a while people start to grow immune: it
doesn't have the effect it had initially. Over time, the strain starts
to reach the most remote communities, and can remain in existence for a
long time. This pattern of spread is well known to epidemiologists and
biologists.

In terms of aesthetic style - what we notice is that designs that once
excited us start to look dull. We're starting to get immune. The
aesthetic-virus loses its power to influence designers, reproduces less
frequently, and hence starts to die out. As in Nature, success can bring
its own failure.

There's no getting away from the common cold, and there's no effective
vaccine. In the same way, we as designers can't innoculate ourselves
from the influence of the design we see. We get affected by it all, to
differing extents. It's in our bloodstream. We're saturated with it. It
comes out in everything we do, and sometimes there are those miraculous
mistakes or surprises that seem like something new has come into
existence.

Functional design has a completely different lifecycle

Functional design exists in a basically similar competitive type of
environment to aesthetic design, but it has a significantly slower
lifecycle. As with aesthetics, original ideas spread where they're
successful, and compete against each other. However, the functional
world is less chaotic, and changes occur less frequently. Because the
mix is less volatile, the strongest functional designs have the
opportunity to become conventions. Conventions persist for long periods,
until supplanted by a more effective competitor. (Not every more
effective competitor gains the upper hand, of course, luck and timing
play a part, but the system works very well for the overall benefit of
the user community.)

It's vital that web designers appreciate the differences between
functional conventions, and purely aesthetic conventions. The domains of
aesthetics and function are as different as the worlds of viruses and
human beings. The aesthetic biosphere is faster-moving, faster-changing,
more chaotic and more competitive. The functional biosphere also evolves
dynamically, but over a longer lifecycle. Changes take place over a
greater timespan than in the viral aesthetic world.

Web designers often fall into the trap of reacting to the functional and
aesthetic in the same way. As though we have over-sensitive immune
systems, we can react to familiar functional (human) designs in the same
way as we react to aesthetic (viral) designs - by becoming immune. You
can spot where designers can find certain layouts, navigational
patterns, terminology or interface controls distasteful or dull, and
have attempted to invent alternatives.

In most cases, trying to reinvent functional conventions fails, because
most new things do fail. However, when they fail, the consequences can
often be more serious than when aesthetic designs fail. Aesthetic
considerations are usually most important for site owners, brand
managers, and designers. They're not unimportant, but they're not vital.
Success is only possible when people, users, consumers use a web site
successfully. It is at the functional level that users achieve their
goals, and when they achieve their goals they are satisfied and start to
save bookmarks, build pathways of re-use, and tell friends. This is a
natural system where a small competitive advantage can reap huge
benfefits (think of an online bookstore, think of an online auction
site).

<mailto:hippiefunk at hotmail.com>
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28 Apr 2004 - 7:50am
Todd Warfel
2003

On Apr 28, 2004, at 6:17 AM, Pabini Gabriel-Petit wrote:
>  Are you going to publish the results of your research?

We're hoping to have it published by end of Summer 2004. We're wrapping
up the last project that is in the study.

Cheers!

Todd R. Warfel
User Experience Architect
MessageFirst | making products easier to use
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
voice: (607) 339-9640
email: twarfel at messagefirst.com
web: www.messagefirst.com
aim: twarfel at mac.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

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28 Apr 2004 - 1:45pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Apr 28, 2004, at 3:26 AM, Pabini Gabriel-Petit wrote:

> According to the salary and consulting rates survey that Tania Lang
> and I
> conducted recently, the overwhelming majority of people in our
> profession
> have diverse skill sets and responsibilities in their work.

How diverse? Further, how deep do those skills run? From what I have
seen in this industry, that answer seems to be "not as diverse or deep
as it should be."

You see, the thing is... Those designers that can draw and create
iconic and illustration style artwork, understand typography,
understand color, and understand grids and layout... those designers
have a much easier time learning the skills of IA and UX. Much more so
than the IA and UX folks trying to learn graphic design. In a future
where designers will be expected to do more, who has the edge when it
comes time to get the new jobs that will emerge as even more companies
get high-tech?

Peter Merholz's recent thrill over the diagram generated by Laurie Gray
in this article, http://www.peterme.com/archives/000305.html, simply
left me thinking, "I guess the data is interesting, but I can barely
read the diagram because the basics of graphic design are utterly
ignored." Which is something I have to constantly get out of my brain
when I see the Visio diagrams, and poorly formatted Word documents, and
wireframes built with Illustrator that lack using the programs type and
color features, alll coming from people who have an IA, UX or ID in
their titles. I see too much coming from too many in this field lacking
in basic, fundamental, good visual communication -- all from people "in
our profession."

Again, look at the blogsphere. You have trained designers now creating
their own websites. They create the visuals, and they also create
simple information architecture, some simple interaction, and they
*code* everything themselves that has to do with the UI and layout of
the site. (Sure, they don't code the CMS itself, but that is for the
hardcore engineer.) And this doesn't even consider those bloggers that
are also create complex Flash interactions. For them, learning more of
the IA and UX skills is not going to be a huge stretch.

A perfect example of a designer doing it all:
http://www.pga.com/pgachampionship/2003/

A really bang up job of a web site that cuts across the board in what
I'm talking about. There is nothing in this website that anyone who
desires to be in this profession should not be able to do with their
own two hands, IMHO.

I am not saying this to be controversial, or say those that don't want
to expand beyond their specialization are somehow wrong, or that this
is the way it must be.

I am just saying this because I believe that the digital product design
(IA, UX, ID, UI) is changing. For me, I think it's for the better. It
is going to require a much broader and deeper skill set than some
people may realize or wish to acknowledge. I think we have to be honest
with ourselves about what the craft will require. And further, the
younger people out there, a lot of them in the blogsphere, are getting
themselves ready for it, whether they realize it or not. They are
diving into creating blogs from scratch, and in the natural course of
creating one, are learning how to solve problems outside the realm of
pure visual design.

Do people in our profession rally have a diverse skill set? Are those
skills deep enough? I'll agree with this point when I see more of us on
the web giving these design bloggers a run for their money. Creating
sites with our own two hands that stand up and exemplify everything we
are supposed to do in our field.

I just don't see enough of that right now.

> I hadn't heard much about Longhorn before. This sounds very
> interesting. Can
> you recommend any sources for information about this or tell us more
> yourself?

http://www.winsupersite.com/longhorn/
http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1558,1368542,00.asp

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

28 Apr 2004 - 2:57pm
Jim Hoekema
2004

Can't resist a comment here...

Andre wrote:
>
> You see, the thing is... Those designers that can draw and create
> iconic and illustration style artwork, understand typography,
> understand color, and understand grids and layout... those designers
> have a much easier time learning the skills of IA and UX. Much more so
> than the IA and UX folks trying to learn graphic design. In a future
> where designers will be expected to do more, who has the edge when it
> comes time to get the new jobs that will emerge as even more companies
> get high-tech?
>
Andre, I believe the answer to your question was meant to be: the designers
can do a good job at all of the many skills - graphics, writing, IA, UX,
etc.

To this I would say, somewhat ruefully, yes, those all-round designers will
be best to DO the work, but will they get the jobs? In my experience, no.
Jobs get defined around specific roles, and departments can't really be
designed on the assumption of filling slots with such renaissance-style
all-rounders. Then add the HR filter to the process, and it gets even
tougher.

Jim Hoekema
HDE www.hoekema.com

28 Apr 2004 - 3:45pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Apr 28, 2004, at 1:57 PM, Jim Hoekema wrote:

> To this I would say, somewhat ruefully, yes, those all-round designers
> will
> be best to DO the work, but will they get the jobs? In my experience,
> no.

That may be true today. But I doubt the future trend will be the same.

> Jobs get defined around specific roles, and departments can't really be
> designed on the assumption of filling slots with such renaissance-style
> all-rounders. Then add the HR filter to the process, and it gets even
> tougher.

HR managers are at the mercy of the corporation. They will adapt to
whatever their business asks them to.

For what its worth... I know that both here and at Microsoft, the
desire to get better "rounded" designers is very high on the list.
Everyone is beginning to ask [IA/UX/UI/ID] designers be far more
rounded than was expected in the past. And again, I think this is a
very good thing.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

28 Apr 2004 - 6:38pm
pabini
2004

Hi Todd

I'll look for more information about it on your Web site in the late summer then.

Thanks, Pabini
We're hoping to have it published by end of Summer 2004. We're wrapping up the last project that is in the study.
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28 Apr 2004 - 3:57pm
Peter Merholz
2004

> You see, the thing is... Those designers that can draw and create
> iconic and illustration style artwork, understand typography,
> understand color, and understand grids and layout... those designers
> have a much easier time learning the skills of IA and UX. Much more so
> than the IA and UX folks trying to learn graphic design.

While that might be true, I'd argue that "those designers" are poorer
at learning the skills of IA and UX than architects, librarians, and
folks with an HCI background. In my experience, "those designers" don't
appreciate the true complexity of IA/UX, and favor style over
substance.

>
> Peter Merholz's recent thrill over the diagram generated by Laurie
> Gray in this article, http://www.peterme.com/archives/000305.html,
> simply left me thinking, "I guess the data is interesting, but I can
> barely read the diagram because the basics of graphic design are
> utterly ignored."

This is such high-and-mighty designer bias as to be laughable, since it
pretty much misses the point.

Is it a work of beauty? No.

Does it communicate? Yes.

The audience at the talk all "got it" with ease, and, according to the
story, so did the client.

So it doesn't hold to the principles of Tufte. Okay. Maybe it should.
But to some degree, it doesn't matter, because it accomplished what it
set out to do -- communicate an idea.

If you want to dismiss it because it doesn't hold to your standards of
visual design, fine. Your loss.

--peter

28 Apr 2004 - 9:04pm
Bob Baxley
2004

Peter,

You need to get out and meet some true designers. Some of the most
creative, talented, and intelligent people in the world are working in
the field of visual design and to say that they "favor style over
substance" is an insult to one of the grand traditions of the modern
age. Not that there aren't plenty of visual stylists who are both
ignorant and dismissive of usability but I hardly find them
representative of the profession.

As for the diagram, I have to agree with Andrei's judgment, as a visual
expression it is inferior at best. The fact that is communicated to
those in attendance at the conference is likely more of a reflection on
the skills of the presenter than the communicative value of the
diagram.

To the larger point however, both in your response here, in a recent
post to your blog, and in many of your public statements, you come
across as somewhere between dismissive and combative towards "design."
I'm wondering if you would elaborate both on your definition of design
and why you're so hostile towards it.

For reference, the particular blog posting I refer to included the
quote, "Designers have *got* to get over this need for typographical
control."

Thanks...Bob

........................................................................
..
Bob Baxley :: Design for Interaction

design :: www.baxleydesign.com
blog :: www.drowninginthecurrent.com

On Apr 28, 2004, at 2:57 PM, Peter Merholz wrote:

>
>> You see, the thing is... Those designers that can draw and create
>> iconic and illustration style artwork, understand typography,
>> understand color, and understand grids and layout... those designers
>> have a much easier time learning the skills of IA and UX. Much more
>> so than the IA and UX folks trying to learn graphic design.
>
> While that might be true, I'd argue that "those designers" are poorer
> at learning the skills of IA and UX than architects, librarians, and
> folks with an HCI background. In my experience, "those designers"
> don't appreciate the true complexity of IA/UX, and favor style over
> substance.
>
>>
>> Peter Merholz's recent thrill over the diagram generated by Laurie
>> Gray in this article, http://www.peterme.com/archives/000305.html,
>> simply left me thinking, "I guess the data is interesting, but I can
>> barely read the diagram because the basics of graphic design are
>> utterly ignored."
>
> This is such high-and-mighty designer bias as to be laughable, since
> it pretty much misses the point.
>
> Is it a work of beauty? No.
>
> Does it communicate? Yes.
>
> The audience at the talk all "got it" with ease, and, according to the
> story, so did the client.
>
> So it doesn't hold to the principles of Tufte. Okay. Maybe it should.
> But to some degree, it doesn't matter, because it accomplished what it
> set out to do -- communicate an idea.
>
> If you want to dismiss it because it doesn't hold to your standards of
> visual design, fine. Your loss.
>
> --peter
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/

28 Apr 2004 - 9:14pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Apr 28, 2004, at 2:57 PM, Peter Merholz wrote:

> ... I'd argue that "those designers" are poorer at learning the skills
> of IA and UX than architects, librarians, and folks with an HCI
> background. In my experience, "those designers" don't appreciate the
> true complexity of IA/UX, and favor style over substance.

Then I guess we'll have to just disagree. My experience has not been
that. In fact, from what I'm seeing the blogsphere, I'd have to say
there's a pretty good group of visual designers out there that are
proving they grok the IA and UX thing at some level. However, looking
at most of the IA and UX sites, I'm not so sure they grok the graphic
design or aesthetic thing. (Or if they do, they haven't been able to
find their inner visual designer.) There are definitely some, like
LukeW and Henrik Olsen's GUUUI, but the tip of the scales seems to be
falling to one side these days.

>> Peter Merholz's recent thrill over the diagram generated by Laurie
>> Gray in this article, http://www.peterme.com/archives/000305.html,
>> simply left me thinking, "I guess the data is interesting, but I can
>> barely read the diagram because the basics of graphic design are
>> utterly ignored."
>
> This is such high-and-mighty designer bias as to be laughable, since
> it pretty much misses the point.

I assure you Peter.... I've worked on applications that make billions
of dollars. Not managed or oversaw them, but in the trenches working on
them as a designer. I really am smart enough to get the point.

> Is it a work of beauty? No.

No one says it has to be.

> Does it communicate? Yes.

That's where I would disagree. It communicates, but not very well. At
least from the point of view of being self-explanatory.

> The audience at the talk all "got it" with ease, and, according to the
> story, so did the client.

Did they? Or was it because there was a speaker there to discuss the
data points and the intent behind the information as well? I'm sure the
data makes perfect sense with assistance, but without assistance, like
I had when seeing it for the first time, it took me more than a minute
to get at what it was trying to communicate.

> If you want to dismiss it because it doesn't hold to your standards of
> visual design, fine. Your loss.

I don't dismiss it. I look at it and see what it's trying to do, and
know that it could speak to so many more people, like product managers,
engineers, marketing types, etc., if it were also well designed.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

28 Apr 2004 - 9:30pm
pabini
2004

Hi Andrei

Andrei Herasimchuk wrote: How diverse? Further, how deep do those skills
run? From what I have seen in this industry, that answer seems to be "not as
diverse or deep as it should be."

Very diverse. Many people wear all the hats you can think of. How deep, I
cannot say. We didn't ask that question. People are notoriously poor at
assessing their own abilities anyway.

> You see, the thing is... Those designers that can draw and create
> iconic and illustration style artwork, understand typography,
> understand color, and understand grids and layout... those designers
> have a much easier time learning the skills of IA and UX. Much more so
> than the IA and UX folks trying to learn graphic design. In a future
> where designers will be expected to do more, who has the edge when it
> comes time to get the new jobs that will emerge as even more companies
> get high-tech?

***[PGP] Do you really think so? I am surprised by that, but I cannot
evaluate this objectively. I had acquired visual design skills before
learning interaction design, but I've always thought it was my
problem-solving ability (left brain) that makes me a good designer.
Designers tend toward right-brain thinking. Actually, I think the key is a
balance between the two minds. Did any of you take Wm. Hudson's recent test
to determine the tendencies of designers?

I see too much coming from too many in this field lacking
> in basic, fundamental, good visual communication -- all from people "in
> our profession."

***[PGP] True. And there's a lot of very poorly written text in user
interfaces, too. Which leaves me wondering how people can hope to achieve
usability if they cannot communicate clearly to users through either text or
images.

> Again, look at the blogsphere. You have trained designers now creating
> their own websites. They create the visuals, and they also create
> simple information architecture, some simple interaction, and they
> *code* everything themselves that has to do with the UI and layout of
> the site. (Sure, they don't code the CMS itself, but that is for the
> hardcore engineer.) And this doesn't even consider those bloggers that
> are also create complex Flash interactions. For them, learning more of
> the IA and UX skills is not going to be a huge stretch.
>
> A perfect example of a designer doing it all:
> http://www.pga.com/pgachampionship/2003/
>
> I am just saying this because I believe that the digital product design
> (IA, UX, ID, UI) is changing. For me, I think it's for the better. It
> is going to require a much broader and deeper skill set than some
> people may realize or wish to acknowledge. I think we have to be honest
> with ourselves about what the craft will require. And further, the
> younger people out there, a lot of them in the blogsphere, are getting
> themselves ready for it, whether they realize it or not. They are
> diving into creating blogs from scratch, and in the natural course of
> creating one, are learning how to solve problems outside the realm of
> pure visual design.

***[PGP] Sounds like an interesting future.

> Do people in our profession rally have a diverse skill set? Are those
> skills deep enough? I'll agree with this point when I see more of us on
> the web giving these design bloggers a run for their money. Creating
> sites with our own two hands that stand up and exemplify everything we
> are supposed to do in our field.

***[PGP] Of course, not everyone is working on the Web.

> > I hadn't heard much about Longhorn before. This sounds very
> > interesting. Can
> > you recommend any sources for information about this or tell us more
> > yourself?
>
> http://www.winsupersite.com/longhorn/
> http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1558,1368542,00.asp

***[PGP] Thanks so much for these links. I'll check them out. :-)

Pabini
________________________________________

Pabini Gabriel-Petit
Principal & User Experience Architect
Spirit Softworks
www.spiritsoftworks.com

28 Apr 2004 - 10:41pm
pabini
2004

Peter Merholz: I'd argue that "those designers" are poorer
> at learning the skills of IA and UX than architects, librarians, and
> folks with an HCI background. In my experience, "those designers" don't
> appreciate the true complexity of IA/UX, and favor style over
> substance.

I think it's a mistake to generalize about people in different specialties.
Some of us have varied talents, some don't.

Pabini

29 Apr 2004 - 3:44am
Michael Bartlett
2004

Andrei, anyone who manages to get grok into a sentence always commands my
respect!

And I would have to agree with you on this. I've seen many a well produced,
easily navigable website built purely by web designers without bringing in
specialist interaction consultants. I was thinking that this could be due to
a trend in professional web design to be clean and simple. 5 years ago I
would have argued against you as web designers went crazy with all of this
"new stuff" and they were all trying to set ground-breaking landmarks by
trying to be clever/different/fancy. Today web design is lot about white
space, obvious links and simple graphic elements - which in general makes
for a pleasant experience.

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.
com] On Behalf Of Andrei Herasimchuk
Sent: 29 April 2004 04:15
To: id-discuss Designers'
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Visual aspects of interaction design

On Apr 28, 2004, at 2:57 PM, Peter Merholz wrote:

> ... I'd argue that "those designers" are poorer at learning the skills
> of IA and UX than architects, librarians, and folks with an HCI
> background. In my experience, "those designers" don't appreciate the
> true complexity of IA/UX, and favor style over substance.

Then I guess we'll have to just disagree. My experience has not been that.
In fact, from what I'm seeing the blogsphere, I'd have to say there's a
pretty good group of visual designers out there that are proving they grok
the IA and UX thing at some level. However, looking at most of the IA and UX
sites, I'm not so sure they grok the graphic design or aesthetic thing. (Or
if they do, they haven't been able to find their inner visual designer.)
There are definitely some, like LukeW and Henrik Olsen's GUUUI, but the tip
of the scales seems to be falling to one side these days.

>> Peter Merholz's recent thrill over the diagram generated by Laurie
>> Gray in this article, http://www.peterme.com/archives/000305.html,
>> simply left me thinking, "I guess the data is interesting, but I can
>> barely read the diagram because the basics of graphic design are
>> utterly ignored."
>
> This is such high-and-mighty designer bias as to be laughable, since
> it pretty much misses the point.

I assure you Peter.... I've worked on applications that make billions of
dollars. Not managed or oversaw them, but in the trenches working on them as
a designer. I really am smart enough to get the point.

> Is it a work of beauty? No.

No one says it has to be.

> Does it communicate? Yes.

That's where I would disagree. It communicates, but not very well. At least
from the point of view of being self-explanatory.

> The audience at the talk all "got it" with ease, and, according to the
> story, so did the client.

Did they? Or was it because there was a speaker there to discuss the data
points and the intent behind the information as well? I'm sure the data
makes perfect sense with assistance, but without assistance, like I had when
seeing it for the first time, it took me more than a minute to get at what
it was trying to communicate.

> If you want to dismiss it because it doesn't hold to your standards of
> visual design, fine. Your loss.

I don't dismiss it. I look at it and see what it's trying to do, and know
that it could speak to so many more people, like product managers,
engineers, marketing types, etc., if it were also well designed.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

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29 Apr 2004 - 12:50am
LukeW
2004

Hi all,
Given that Functioning Form www.functioningform.com (my little niche
in the blogosphere) sparked part of this debate and that eBay's (my
current stomping grounds) approach to interface design quickly became
part of it, I feel I have to chime in and agree with Andrei (and others
:). To me, not only are visual and interaction design intertwined but
so is brand (reflective design), business, engineering, and more. Let
me elaborate...

When I was doing graphic design and the Web came along, I began to
code. If you want to sculpt, you need to understand your medium.
When sites got big and "content became king", I turned to Library &
Infomation Sciences.

Though eBay may not be breaking ground with visual and interaction
design yet (we're still growing incredibly fast), where I do feel we
are pushing boundaries is with the integration of interface design and
business (there was a recent IA summit talk by folks from eBay on this
topic). I'm now in a position where my visual, interaction, and
information design skills are being supplemented and leveraged with
business skills. When I sat down to write a book in 2002 on integrating
visual communication and Web usability, I had to learn "writing" as I
was not trained as an author. Going through the exercise of writing a
book ultimately helped inform my interface designs. (I think there a
recent talk in London for members of this list titled Interaction
Design is Language Design.) Being Concise, organizing narratives, etc.
all these aspects of authoring now emerge in my interface designs. The
same is happening with business objectives and my experiences at eBay.

What profession could benefit more from cross-disciplinary experience
than interface design? http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?23

::
:: Luke Wroblewski -[ www.lukew.com ]
:: User Experience Director, LukeW Interface Designs
::
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29 Apr 2004 - 11:50am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Apr 29, 2004, at 2:44 AM, Michael Bartlett wrote:

> And I would have to agree with you on this. I've seen many a well
> produced,
> easily navigable website built purely by web designers without
> bringing in
> specialist interaction consultants. I was thinking that this could be
> due to
> a trend in professional web design to be clean and simple.

Not only clean and simple, many of them strive to be as accessible as
possible due to using web standards of XHTML + CSS. Just peruse
Zeldman's site, Keith Robinson's, Andy Budd's, Dave Shea's, Doug
Bowman's and Dan Cedarhelm's... all of them have gotten on the
bandwagon and are tearing it up with both visual pleasing work that
does its damndest to be accessible, readable and usable.

http://www.7nights.com/asterisk/
http://www.andybudd.com/
http://www.mezzoblue.com/
http://www.simplebits.com/
http://stopdesign.com/
http://www.zeldman.com/

And every one of these sites is produced by the bloggers themselves,
with no outside help. (To my knowledge.)

> 5 years ago I
> would have argued against you as web designers went crazy with all of
> this
> "new stuff" and they were all trying to set ground-breaking landmarks
> by
> trying to be clever/different/fancy. Today web design is lot about
> white
> space, obvious links and simple graphic elements - which in general
> makes
> for a pleasant experience.

Absolutely agree. And like I said, these guys are also taking
usability, IA, UX and things like accessibility to heart. They are
really striving to push the boundaries.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

29 Apr 2004 - 12:31pm
Dave Malouf
2005

I've sorta been stepping back and soakin' it all in for a bit (something I
haven't done a lot of in any list I'm on.) But time to jump back in.

I first want to appreciate all that has been said on this topic and now
share a little bit of the thinking I've gained after reading this
discussion:

1. Visual aspects of interaction design are key to its success. It is well
understood that color, typography, and aesthetic aspects of visual design
all either enhance usability directly, or lend to a perception of better
usability.

2. I do not think that visual designers are trained traditionally to
understand all the elements of their work that effect interaction behavior,
so there is a leap for traditional graphic artists that need to happen.

3. I've heard Andrei talk (and read his own blog) about how visual designers
who are blogging are "getting it". To be honest I don't see it. I see a huge
leap between doing a blog and creating a device or an enterprise
application. The types of system interpretation that needs to be done is
just different and incomparable. I would not expect that someone who is
trained in graphic arts to be able to jump into designing photoshop w/o
putting in a few years of junior level interaction design and thus then
become an interaction designer. However, I don't need someone w/ visual
design skills to lead my interaction design projects. I think someone else
said it, Petter?, that they feel that an architect to interaction designer
has less of a jump towards what we are doing than a visual designer.

Visual designers are not adept at in systems where they do not control the
output of their own creation and in real systems deployments they seldom
will. Visual designers are used to controlling the ink, paper, and even film
that they work with, whereas interaction designers work constantly w/ the
roaming technological constraints of app servers, databases, browsers, and
most importantly developers that constantly require a level of manipulation.

While recently in my own hiring of a colleague I specifically went after
someone w/ visual design training, the person would not be here if they did
not already have years of experience directly doing work in an interaction
designer role as well. In fact if I found a pure visual designer who was
interested in what I do I wouldn't have hired them. Why? b/c I don't have
time to mentor someone to attain mid-level or sr. level design expertise
just so I can get a visual designer. Since much of GUI development is
software is dependent on the widgets of the OS and other predetermined
systems visual design becomes less and less important. Yes, I'm sitting on
convention, but I do feel that convention in a poor economic period carries
a lot of weight when usability still costs money.

Another point I'd like to make here is that classically trained graphic
designers are at least classically trained designers. They may be novice in
the medium, but they know more about Big D than people who have come to
design from IA, Usability, or even HCI/research. This to me is a much bigger
asset than the visual component they offer. But then again, an architect has
the Big D piece as well and is more adept at thinking about interactions
within spaces over time than a visual designer would be by training.

Finally, there is an aspect of success regarding the home grown guy. The
dot-commer who has no classical training in anything is a very valuable
asset to any team. Their experience and possible/probable skillsets are also
not to be dismissed despite a lack of certification or other credential.
They are not boxed in by "schools" of design and usually float most easily
between the various disciplines and roles that make up UXD. This ability to
float lends to better leadership because they understand all of the roles
that need to be thought about in leading a collection of others.

--dave

David Heller
dave at interactiondesigners.com
http://www.interactiondesigners.com/

for work \\ http://www.intralinks.com
\\ http://www.htmhell.com
\\ http://webgui.htmhell.com

to connect \\ AIM: bolinhanyc
\\ Y!: dave_ux
\\ MSN: hippiefunk at hotmail.com

29 Apr 2004 - 3:49pm
Beth Mazur
2003

One thing that seems to be missing from this discussion (or at least, I
missed) is the issue of context. Not all projects have the luxury of having
a neatly chunked person in all the roles that you might want. Since I'm
a fan of the film metaphor (http://www.iawiki.net/FilmDirectorMetaphor),
I think that IxD projects can similarly span the range of the Steven
Spielberg blockbuster to the indie producer who max'd out the credit card.

I figure it's unlikely that studios--or organizations--choose jack-of-all-trades
when they are making big budget films--or products. But smaller orgs likely
require the luxury of someone who can wear multiple hats. And these
smaller orgs may still want to weight experience based on the type of
product they are developing. And of course, the type of competition they
are facing in the marketplace.

So like Jenifer said, "it depends." I think there's room for both. And frankly,
this discussion reminds me of my experiences with wedding catering
when folks wonder whether some aspect of a reception is tacky or
not...nothing like saying that you think the money dance (or favors or
the bouquet toss or garter or the receiving line) is passe. Just don't
go there!!

Beth Mazur
IDblog: http://idblog.org

29 Apr 2004 - 6:46pm
Beth Berrean
2004

Context is definitely an important part of the
discussion....

I don't see the same trend for deeply skilled
designers as Andrei does. In fact, I see a need for
large broad skill sets (or even large broads).

I like to think of it as empowering ordinary
individuals to make the best design decisions they
can.

People don't create bad charts or funky web apps with
huge cancel buttons to obscure their message or
alienate a user.

Let me make it very specific for you. I don't think
visual design skills or coding skills will:
+ make sure the right meta data gets on a nobel prize
winner's site so people can find his site
+ help a faculty member publish a quick web on what
health professionals need to know about herbs and
their patients' health
+ provide improved widgets and task flows for an
online clinical trial

Admittedly, not all of those tasks are IXD. They are
some of the things my small UX team has done for much
larger missions of a public health care university.

We all agree design is important in creating
compelling, comprehensible applications and
information products. We agree that most people aren't
"qualified" to design.

I think we can agree that there appear to be even more
non-designers, non-coders, non-writers producing web
pages, applications and even power point charts than
ever.

Now, how do we go about making their end products as
good as they need to be?

beth berrean
IA/Project Coordinator
UCSF Dean's Office School of Medicine
(415) 502-1790

30 Apr 2004 - 1:23am
pabini
2004

Hi Michael

Michael Bartlett wrote:> Andrei, anyone who manages to get grok into a
sentence always commands my
> respect!

It seemed so natural to me that I didn't even notice it. :-)

> And I would have to agree with you on this. I've seen many a well
produced,
> easily navigable website built purely by web designers without bringing in
> specialist interaction consultants. I was thinking that this could be due
to
> a trend in professional web design to be clean and simple. 5 years ago I
> would have argued against you as web designers went crazy with all of this
> "new stuff" and they were all trying to set ground-breaking landmarks by
> trying to be clever/different/fancy. Today web design is lot about white
> space, obvious links and simple graphic elements - which in general makes
> for a pleasant experience.

I think what you say is true. Visual design for the Web has matured. It's
not as though interaction design for a Web site is rocket science. And, as
I've said before, many visual design principles exist for the sake of
usability--albeit the usability of print documents.

Pabini Gabriel-Petit

30 Apr 2004 - 3:28am
pabini
2004

Hi Andrei

Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:
Not only clean and simple, many of them strive to be as accessible as
possible due to using web standards of XHTML + CSS. Just peruse
Zeldman's site, Keith Robinson's, Andy Budd's, Dave Shea's, Doug
Bowman's and Dan Cedarhelm's... all of them have gotten on the
bandwagon and are tearing it up with both visual pleasing work that
does its damndest to be accessible, readable and usable.

http://www.7nights.com/asterisk/
http://www.andybudd.com/
http://www.mezzoblue.com/
http://www.simplebits.com/
http://stopdesign.com/
http://www.zeldman.com/

I checked out these sites. I was already familiar with the simplebits and
stopdesign sites, which are excellent. The Andy Budd Blogography is very
simple and elegant.

I didn't think much of the mezzoblue site. Tiny dark blue text on a medium
blue background--not very legible. At least, most of the text is scalable.

zeldman uses some teeny text that isn't scalable in the sidebar and that
huge header pushes the content awfully far down on the page. The main
content is beautifully done though.

I didn't care for 7nights. The page just doesn't quite hang together. Too
many boxes inside of boxes and visual noise for my taste. The text is well
done though and scalable.

Pabini Gabriel-Petit

30 Apr 2004 - 4:02am
pabini
2004

Hi David

David Heller wrote:
2. I do not think that visual designers are trained traditionally to
> understand all the elements of their work that effect interaction
behavior,
> so there is a leap for traditional graphic artists that need to happen.

Visual designers who are experienced in designing books and layouts for
application programs are well versed in these things. How exactly they
originally came by that knowledge I cannot say. I learned a lot from the
book designers with whom I worked when I was a tech writer. Many visual
designers I've known have become user interface designers. Very good ones,
too. Some went back to school. Some learned on the job.

> 3. I've heard Andrei talk (and read his own blog) about how visual
designers
> who are blogging are "getting it". ... I see a huge leap between doing a
blog and creating a
> device or an enterprise application. The types of system interpretation
that needs to be done is
> just different and incomparable. I ... feel that an architect to
interaction designer
> has less of a jump towards what we are doing than a visual designer.

***What blog? URL please? There is a huge difference between designing ads
or magazine layouts and designing applications, but not so much for
designing Web sites, which is what a lot of visual designers are now doing.
I originally wanted to be a residential architect, but couldn't afford the
schooling, so I studied space planning and interior design instead. But then
I got into personal computers and that changed my direction. I do apply much
of what I learned when studying space planning and interior design to
UI/interaction design though.

Since much of GUI development is
> software is dependent on the widgets of the OS and other predetermined
> systems visual design becomes less and less important. Yes, I'm sitting on
> convention, but I do feel that convention in a poor economic period
carries
> a lot of weight when usability still costs money.

***Yes, that's very true. That's one reason we can sometimes get away with
not using UCD techniques when forced to do so. Much of the functionality has
already been tested by OS designers.

> Another point I'd like to make here is that classically trained graphic
> designers are at least classically trained designers. They may be novice
in
> the medium, but they know more about Big D than people who have come to
> design from IA, Usability, or even HCI/research. This to me is a much
bigger
> asset than the visual component they offer. But then again, an architect
has
> the Big D piece as well and is more adept at thinking about interactions
> within spaces over time than a visual designer would be by training.

***I totally agree with you on this and your next point.

> Finally, there is an aspect of success regarding the home grown guy. The
> dot-commer who has no classical training in anything is a very valuable
> asset to any team. Their experience and possible/probable skillsets are
also
> not to be dismissed despite a lack of certification or other credential.
> They are not boxed in by "schools" of design and usually float most easily
> between the various disciplines and roles that make up UXD. This ability
to
> float lends to better leadership because they understand all of the roles
> that need to be thought about in leading a collection of others.

***As a home-grown user-experience designer, I appreciate your saying
this--though it was application program design that I bootstrapped myself
into back in the '80s. I'm very well educated, but for the most part,
self-educated. This is sometimes an obstacle when seeking employment though.
I'm sure my resume has gotten stuck in HR more than once.

I think that anyone who is self-educated tends to be versatile. Knowledge is
only a good book away. Every time I need to learn something, I just teach
myself. I'm a great believer in life-long learning. In addition to studying
what I must know to do my own job, I've studied project management,
development lifecycles, enough programming to know what's possible and what
isn't, product marketing, market research, and whatever else will help me to
better understand the roles of the people with whom I work. Whenever, I
start working on a new technology, I learn about it on my own, so I don't
have to ask engineers "dumb" questions. It really helps gain their respect.

So, thanks for validating those of us who were not privileged to get a
formal education in UxD. :-)

Pabini Gabriel-Petit

30 Apr 2004 - 4:25am
pabini
2004

Hi Beth

Beth Mazur wrote:
> One thing that seems to be missing from this discussion (or at least, I
> missed) is the issue of context. Not all projects have the luxury of
having
> a neatly chunked person in all the roles that you might want. Since I'm
> a fan of the film metaphor (http://www.iawiki.net/FilmDirectorMetaphor),
> I think that IxD projects can similarly span the range of the Steven
> Spielberg blockbuster to the indie producer who max'd out the credit card.

***Probably most companies don't have that luxury--let alone projects. In
the salary survey Tania Lang and I conducted recently, I was very surprised
at the high percentage of people who seem to be jacks/jills-of-all-trades.

> I figure it's unlikely that studios--or organizations--choose
jack-of-all-trades
> when they are making big budget films--or products. But smaller orgs
likely
> require the luxury of someone who can wear multiple hats. And these
> smaller orgs may still want to weight experience based on the type of
> product they are developing. And of course, the type of competition they
> are facing in the marketplace.

***While I agree with you that smaller organizations need people who can
wear many hats, I don't think anyone in a large organization should assume
that a person who can do so lacks the depth of knowledge and experience to
perform well in a specialized role. I'm sure it depends on the person.
Throughout my entire career in software (closing in on 20 years), I don't
think I've ever worked on similar technologies at different companies. I've
always learned the technology on the job--mostly on my own. As a wearer of
many hats, the versatility that I possess is helpful on that front, too.
When hiring, there are many things that are more important than specific
work experience--for example, character, design skills, and writing and
other communication skills.

> So like Jenifer said, "it depends." I think there's room for both.

***Just about everything depends, doesn't it? :-) I do hope there is room
for both--and not just in small companies. I prefer working for large
corporations with resources. I hope people won't put other people in boxes
based on false assumptions. Boxes are great for wireframes, but I wouldn't
want to live in one. ;-)

Pabini Gabriel-Petit

30 Apr 2004 - 5:05am
pabini
2004

Hi Beth

You wrote:
> We all agree design is important in creating
> compelling, comprehensible applications and
> information products. We agree that most people aren't
> "qualified" to design.
>
> I think we can agree that there appear to be even more
> non-designers, non-coders, non-writers producing web
> pages, applications and even power point charts than
> ever.
>
> Now, how do we go about making their end products as
> good as they need to be?

By creating templates, providing style and Web design guidelines, and
providing editorial oversight.

Pabini Gabriel-Petit

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